Israeli official in Netanyahu’s office: we won’t go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals

Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, who loves having sensational scoops, started off the day Sunday by floating a report that Britain + France may recall their ambassadors to Israel — an unprecedented step — in response to the Netanyahu cabinet’s announcement on 30 November that it would advance the planning process to build in E-1.

The E-1 area is, as Israeli lawyer and Jerusalem expert Daniel Seidemann has said over and over in recent days, the “Doomsday” settlement.

The Netanyahu cabinet also said it would build some 3,000 other settlement units in as-yet-unspecified places in and around Jerusalem [or, what Israeli officials unilaterally defined in 1967 as the "Greater Jerusalem Municipality"].

As it happened, Britain and France were not ready to recall their ambassadors — a futile step in any case, however sensational.

Instead, Britain, France, Spain, Sweden and Denmark called in the Israeli Ambassadors to their capitals, and expressed their dismay and displeasure. UPDATE: Australia and Brazil, Ireland and Finland all did the same on Monday.

The Israeli reaction was unruffled.  What did they expect, Israeli officials said [it was not a question, but an expression of attitude, specifically disdain]: we said we would take retaliatory action if the Palestinians went ahead with their UNGA move, and that’s what we are doing.

In Washington, a new twist: the U.S. equally disapproves of “unilateral” measures such as a.) the PLO going to the UN to upgrade the status of Palestine, or b.) the Israeli settlement building.  This is being called “even-handed”

The flurry of announcements was dizzying.

Settlers moved, unopposed, into empty apartments in a five-story building at Jabel Muqaber [south-east Jerusalem]

A street was closed in Wadi Hilweh, Silwan, for tunnel-digging [which a few meters north has caused collapsing structures overhead]

Ma’ariv reported that a West Bank planning commission would meet on Wednesday to expedite [yes, that's what the cabinet said it would do, and that's what's happening] Israeli development in E-1.

On Tuesday, the Times of Israel gave the first indication of where the 3,000 promised new settlement units would be located, reporting here “Some 1,700 units are scheduled for approval by the [Jerusalem] municipality in Ramat Shlomo, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city. The construction plans were initially okayed a year ago, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden. The plans were frozen after an international outcry over the timing of the approval, which were seen as disrespectful to Washington.The municipality will also green-light the construction of the first new neighborhood beyond the Green Line since the 1997 decision to build Har Homa. Thousands of apartments are to be approved in Givat Hamatos, located next to the Jewish neighborhood of Talpiot and the Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa”.

These are just north and just south of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

E-1 is, as the name shows, the first block of land east of the “Greater Jerusalem Municipality”.

Israel’s act of selecting areas of the West Bank to include in its “Greater Jerusalem Municipality” was unilateral…

And, now there’s a new idea being put forward by Israeli and pro-Israeli advocacy groups. Camera.org turns the table and attempts to argue here that it is Israel’s territorial contiguity that will be affected if E-1 is NOT developed… This posting is dated 2 December 2012. The Israel Project [TIP] does the same thing [but with a different map, which doesn't show this exaggerated detour].

The Israel Project argues in an email message sent out on 3 December that: “Critics charged that construction in the E1 corridor would foreclose territorial contiguity between areas the Palestinian reserve for themselves in the West Bank and areas they reserve for themselves in Jerusalem, that it would make negotiations impossible, and that it would result it Jerusalem endangering bilateral negotiations. Israeli officials responded strongly to both the substance the tone of the criticisms. The concerns over contiguity have been held up in particular as almost exactly backwards. Israeli construction in E1 doesn’t preclude contiguity between the West Bank and Jerusalem, as the Israelis have built substantial infrastructure and bypass roads to connect to connect parts of Jerusalem with parts of the West Bank in the absence of routes through E1. In contrast, Palestinian control of E1 actually does cut off Ma’aleh Adumim from the rest of Israel, as there is no parallel infrastructure to maintain Israeli access”…

UPDATE: (1.) Ali Gharib, writing on The Daily Beast here called The Israel Project’s argument a “novel defense” which is at the same time also misleading.  He argued [based on something Elliot Abrams wrote {see below} which may not be a fair way to reason] that “what the Israel Project and, were it interested in a two-state deal, the government of Israel mean to preserve in E1 would be Palestinian ‘continuity’ for transportation, not territorial contiguity”.

Gharib wrote that “the Israeli-built bypass roads for Palestinians will allow movement between the northern and southern West Bank. Some of these roads are already built; they would leave a Palestinian state reduced to a 16-meter-wide road at the center of the country”.   And, he wrote, “If Israel, as it does, intends to keep Ma’aleh Adumim in a supposed final peace deal, it should make its case at the negotiating table; that’s what this unilateral Israeli move would preclude. Both sides will insist they want some sort of corridor—not just an ‘umbilical chord’—and they must hammer out a tough compromise”.

And, Gharib wrote, “Most gallingly, the Israel Project centered its release on a statement by an anonymous Israeli official to the Washington Postthat, as the title of the press release put it, “Israeli Officials Link House Announcement To ‘Vital Interests’, Reject Criticism.” The statement echoes one by Benjamin Netanyahu, who said building settlements was in the “strategic interests of the State of Israel’. Neither Netanyahu, nor the anonymous Israeli official in the [Washington] Post explain exactly what these ‘vital interests’ are. The Israel Project seems to have taken a stab at it, but fell flat. As such, the group should pipe up: what is the ‘vital interest’ of moving Israeli civilians into the West Bank?”

(2.) What Elliot Abrams argued was this: “The Israeli security argument is simple: it is impossible to have Ma’ale Adumim connected to Jerusalem only by one road because that road can all too easily be blocked and communication between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim (and beyond to the Jordan valley and border) cut off. This argument has persuaded all Israeli prime ministers who have faced the question”. 

Abrams also wrote that “The deal reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Prime Minister Sharon in 2004 was to permit construction of additional housing units inside the major blocks and other settlements, but not the construction of new settlements or the physical expansion of existing ones. The current decision fits easily within those terms. The Obama administration has never accepted that agreement between the United States and Israel…” This piece by Elliot Abrams is posted here.

The Israel Project argument continues: “More pointedly, Israeli officials consider Palestinian criticism over construction in E1 and Ma’aleh Adumim to be a pretext for abandoning negotiations. Those areas have since the beginning of the peace process been envisioned as ending up under Israeli sovereign, and Palestinian negotiators have historically been willing to negotiate with Israel as long as Israeli construction was consigned to such areas. Dennis Ross published a map describing Israeli and Palestinian territories codified under the 2000 Clinton parameters, with Ma’aleh Adumim explicitly labeled as Israeli and connected to Jerusalem via the E1 corridor. The terms emerged through secret negotiations mediated by Ross in the months after the collapse of that summer’s Camp David negotiations, and understanding under which the territories would remain Israeli was linked to Israeli concessions on Jerusalem. The disposition of E1 and Ma’aleh Adumim in the Clinton Parameters reflected more than half a decade of Israeli understandings embraced by governments from across the political spectrum. In October 1994 during the beginning of the Oslo Accords, then-Labor prime minister Yitzhak Rabin declared that a “united Jerusalem” would include Ma’aleh Adumim, and he even provided then-mayor Benny Kashriel with annexation documents for E1. In 1996 then-Labor prime minister Shimon Peres reaffirmed the Israeli government’s position that Israel would demand sovereignty over Ma’aleh Adumim and was backed by dovish politician and co-author of the Geneva Initiative, Yossi Beilin. Later, in 2008 then-Kadima prime minister Ehud Olmert and then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni demanded that Ma’aleh Adumim remain a part of Israel”…

A Dennis Ross map???

As The Israel Project said [see above]: “Dennis Ross published a map describing Israeli and Palestinian territories codified under the 2000 Clinton parameters, with Ma’aleh Adumim explicitly labeled as Israeli and connected to Jerusalem via the E1 corridor. The terms emerged through secret negotiations mediated by Ross in the months after the collapse of that summer’s Camp David negotiations, and understanding under which the territories would remain Israeli was linked to Israeli concessions on Jerusalem”.

Here it is, from The Israel Project [this map is American-produced, apparently by Dennis Ross working for Bill Clinton, so the Jordan Valley is left intact here, which Mahmoud Abbas says Netanyahu does not want to do... Palestinian negotiator Muhammad Shtayyah said that in Amman talks in early 2012, Netanyahu envoy Yitzhak Molcho told the Palestinian team that either they give up the Jordan Valley, or Israel would take it.... Yes, Road 90 is clearly a very important strategic asset for Israel ]:

The Dennis Ross-Bill Clinton Parameters - according to The Israel Project

The Dennis Ross-Bill Clinton Parameters - according to The Israel Project

Meanwhile, the Camera.org post provides its own map that [inadvertently?] confirms all the arguments made against E-1 as the “red line” after which the two-state solution is no longer possible… Camera.org draws a black line all around the West Bank, and says this is how Israelis would have to travel to go from Arad in the south to Beit She’an in the north… But Camera.org pointedly avoids any mention of Road 90, running up all along the Jordanian border, beside the Dead Sea and the Jordan River, which is what Israelis [but NOT Palestinians, there is a huge and difficult checkpoint blocking their way] can use to travel in a straight line through the West Bank from Arad [or Eilat, further south] to Beit She’an [or Tiberias, or the upper Galilee, or the Golan] in the north…

Camera.org map to illustrate "Contiguity double-standard"

Camera.org map to illustrate "Contiguity double-standard"

The map above was published by Camera.org — without a mention of Road 90 — and published in 2005 here and again on 2 December 2012 here.

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6 Responses to “Israeli official in Netanyahu’s office: we won’t go back on decision on E-1, we said in advance there would be reprisals”

  1. it’s amazing to see, how the maps illustrates “Israeli attack” on future Palestinian state continuity on pro-palestinian sites are abrupting immediately at the eastern outskirts of Ma’ale Adumim. Someone, who is not familiar with Israel topography (and most of the people visiting those site are not), definitely will believe the fallacy they have been fed with. That’s how narrative is been written.

  2. Cannot quite understand your point, exactly … Are you saying that there are worse things being done to a future Palestinian state than in the E-1 area north + east of Ma’ale Adumim? Where?

  3. My point is explained in Camera.org posting that you referred here (and You should be praised about the wiliness to mention different points of view on disputed issues :-)

  4. Actually, Israel shouldn’t build more neighborhoods in E1 (at least till both sides will come to final agreements about future Palestine state borders). It’s consensus that E1 eventually will stay under Israel sovereignty (that been declared in 1994 by Rabin, in 1996 that been reaffirmed by Peres and in 2000 Camp David summit, where Maale Adumim and E1 territory connecting it to Jerusalem will be annexed by Israel, in return, Palestinians will annex arabic neighborhoods of East Jerusalem ( Abu Dis, Alezariye, ‘Anata, A-Ram) that will be their capital (Al-Quds)
    Without annexing E1, the Maale Adumim will turn to isolated enclave. See here good article on this issue:
    http://jcpa.org/article/protecting-the-contiguity-of-israel-the-e-1-area-and-the-link-between-jerusalem-and-maale-adumim/

  5. It’s important to understand what the real issues are — and it’s often very hard here to get any explanation.

  6. Did any Palestinian negotiators ever agree to this?
    One thing I am quite sure about is that they would never accept just
    Abu Dis + Eizariyya + Anata + ar-Ram as the capital —
    never without Beit Hanina + Shoafat + Sheikh Jarrah + Wadi Joz + Mt of Olives + much of the Old City + Silwan etc etc

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